By Elyse Resch, MS, RDN, CEDRD

You’ve tried every diet on the planet, and you’re fed up. You realize that dieting is no longer a viable option, not only because it has failed you, but because you’re on a path to body positivity and making health a priority over weight—but you’ve probably been perplexed about what the next step might be. You know in your heart of hearts that you don’t want to do, and you can’t continue life with your bad eating habits. What do you do?

Intuitive eating offers you a way out of this misery and a way in to a happier, freer eating life–with less food stress. But to move from dieting to intuitive eating, you might have to take a leap of faith to jump into these unchartered waters. To encourage you to take that leap, intuitive eating offers you a carrot (see what I did there?) to fully commit to this process: the vision of being able to find true satisfaction in your eating experiences.

Discovering the satisfaction factor explores one of the principles of intuitive eating that is the touchstone for each of the intuitive eating principles. When you begin to focus on satisfaction while eating, a new world of mindfulness in eating opens up for you.

But before we go into that, ask yourself one important question. Do I deserve and desire to feel satisfaction when I eat?

Now, that’s a powerful question, which at first glance seems to have an obvious answer: Of course, I do!

If only it were that simple.

You’re likely to have been so inundated with rules of what to eat, which foods are “good” and which are “bad,” when you should eat, and how much you should eat, that you may have lost touch with the pleasure of eating and your right to engage in this pleasure.

Japanese culture promotes pleasure as one of their goals of healthy eating. Other cultures in the world also maintain the wisdom of pleasure in eating. Long lunch breaks are de rigueur throughout Europe. French culture is known for their rich pastries, crisp French fries, and crunchy French breads. The French don’t worry so much about fat in their food, as they know that the fat carries the flavor in food. In Italy, folks love pizza and pasta and don’t worry about the carbs or gluten. Go anywhere in the world, and you will find that the foods there are celebrated.

Unfortunately, for so many in American culture, the pleasure of eating promotes feelings of guilt and wrongdoing, and, of course, dieting plays right into this ethic. It causes you to make sacrifices and settle for less. But if you settle for food or an eating experience that’s inferior, it will cause you to long for more, and you’re apt to eventually find yourself overeating.

Once you’ve taken the leap of faith into intuitive eating, you’ll discover that seeking satisfaction will cause you to ponder your attunement with your hunger and fullness levels (who would want to go into an amazing restaurant having just eaten a peanut butter and jelly sandwich!?). You’ll start to explore the freedom to make all foods emotionally equivalent (there will no longer be any “good” or “bad” foods). Intuitive eating will put you on the path of creating satisfying, sensory eating experiences by staying present to the pleasure of your meals. It will teach you to sense when that pleasure diminishes because you’re full, and to understand that separating negative emotions and language from eating will increase your satisfaction level. You can work on this alone or with your kids.

Taking satisfaction in good food is one of the gifts of life. Give yourself this gift, and find the deep level of joy that has been missing in one of your most fundamental life experiences. You deserve it.